Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Alf Cobb & his wife Mary, p.2

1908 July 23rd – The leading socialist Alf Cobb was fined 2s 6d at Hastings magistrates court for causing an obstruction in the streets at a meeting of street hawkers he had organised in South Terrace on 10 July. Hastings Council was waging a campaign against hawkers (Cobb was one) because they were taking trade from shopkeepers, and 20 had been prosecuted on 9 July.

1910 November 1st – At the municipal elections, the leading Hastings socialist Alf Cobb was defeated by Mr FW Morgan in the St Clements Ward by just 31 votes (394 to 361). Cobb was lifted shoulder high by the crowd of supporters, waving a very crushed bowler hat.

1910 December 6th – Socialist Alf Cobb failed by a small margin to win the Upper St Marys Ward in the municipal election. After the announcement of the result at the town hall, Cobb was lifted shoulder high by an enthusiastic crowd and proceeded to make a procession through the main streets, delivering numerous addresses at street corners.

1911 May 13th – The Observer of this date reported that Alf Cobb, leader of the Social Democratic Party, held a meeting on the seafront at Denmark Place in protest at a new bye-law being passed, preventing any such meetings being held there.

“There is not the slightest doubt that the majority of councillors have proved themselves unfitted for the task of carrying out the administration of our town.”  

Cobb shook the Hastings establishment out of its lethargy, transforming the borough‘s politics in the first decade and a half of the 20th century.  He set out to unmask the injustice and corruption so prevalent in Hastings, a relentless task that gained him massive notoriety, and helped influence Robert Tressell’s political perceptions and viewpoint on life in a watering place then undergoing an alarming decline which led to “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist

Cobb’s muck-raking exposed widespread “muddle, mismanagement and monstrous scandals” in the town hall. His courageous prosecution of the mayor and Hastings Corporation in 1910 caused fear and loathing of him among the wealthy classes, and generated vindictiveness from councillors “caught with their fingers in the till”. Cobb’s passionate speeches are often recorded in word-for-word detail in the local newspapers.


Hastings & St Leonards Observer 10th September 1921 p8:


The death occurred on Monday of Councillor Alfred James Cobb, at his residence, 7 Brook Street, at the early age of 47.  He had been seriously ill for some weeks, and before his death it was known his condition was such as gave no hope of recovery.

A labour leader, and an avowed Socialist, Councillor Cobb made himself prominent as a bitter opponent of both what he was pleased to call 'Capitalist' parties……. He stood for the St Clement's Ward some years ago, but was defeated.  He was, however, elected to represent that ward on the Town Council in November 1920, defeating Councillor F W Morgan. He was the champion of the hawking fraternity, and both in the Town Council and in the Police Court, Alfred Cobb fought for them.  He kept alive the controversy which eventually reached a settlement in the recent order regarding hawkers passed by the Council at their last meeting — at which Councillor Cobb was too ill to be present.

He also took a very keen interest in the effort to promote the glass industry from the sand at Fairlight, for the purpose of absorbing the unemployed. This, however, proved a failure, since enquiries shewed the industry would not be a paying proposition. He was on the Committee of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Federation, the local War Pensions Committee, the Employment Committee, and he was Chairman of the Street Traders' Association.

A fighter to the last, Councillor Cobb always supported the 'man beneath'. He never knew fear and would return to the attack in the face of almost certain failure.


Representatives from many organisations connected with ex-Servicemen attended the funeral at the Borough Cemetery yesterday (Friday) afternoon.

The family mourners were : Mrs. M . Cobb (widow) Miss Florence Cobb (daughter), Mr. J. W. Cobb (father), Mr. Charles Harrison (brother-in-law), Miss Annie Gannon (niece), and Mr. and Mrs. Todd (uncle and aunt). The wreaths were as follows “ln loving memory, from Mary;" "In loving memory, from his loving daughter, Florrie;" "In affectionate remembrance, from his father. God bless him;"

Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 06 October 1923

COUNCILLOR'S WIDOW ILL. At the suggestion of Councillor Tingle it was unanimously decided to send a letter of sympathy to the widow of the late Councillor Cobb, who was seriously ill.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 13 October 1923

DEATH OF MBS. COBB.-A very large circle of friends, especially in the Old Town, will regret to hear of the death of Mrs Cobb, widow of the late Councillor A. Cobb, which took place at the East Sussex Hospital on Monday after a serious operation. The funeral was yesterday, from her residence, 8, Brook-street.  There was a large assembly of relations and friends in the local flower trade, in which Mrs Cobb had been engaged for many years. The Rev. E. W. Stredder, vicar of St. Andrew's, officiated at the Borough Cemetery…..